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Inside Washington

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Chuck Hagel 14, U.s. 6, John Mccain 6, Iraq 5, John Kerry 4, Us 3, United States 3, Clinton 3, Nra 3, New York 2, Vietnam 2, Israel 2, Brazil 2, America 2, Koch 2, Lindsey Graham 2, Mccain 2, Wayne Lapierre 2, Jim Webb 2, Nelson 2,
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  WETA    Inside Washington    News/Business. Round-table  
   discussions feature journalists. (CC)  

    February 2, 2013
    6:00 - 6:30pm EST  

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>> what do you think of when you see a tree? a treatment for cancer? alternative fuel for our cars? do you think of hope for the environment, or food, clothing, shelter? we do. weyerhaeuser. growing ideas. if you would like me to explain, -- >> actually, i would like an
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answer, yes or no. >> i will not give you a yes or no. i think it is far more complicated than that. my answer is, i will defer that judgment to history. >> chuck hagel and the battle for the pentagon. >> the good news is, for the first time in many years, republicans and democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together. >> the immigration problem. has somebody been reading exit polls? >> too many children are dying. too many children. >> also, the fight over -- over guns. >> law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violence or deranged criminals. >> the word on hillary in 2016. will she or won't she? >> i have no plans to run.
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>> thursday was not a good day for chuck hagel, president obama's choice to be his next offensive material. his old pal and fellow vietnam veteran john mccain jumped all over him for opposing the search --the surge in iraq. >> were you correct or not to say that the surge would be the month dangerous foreign policy blunder since vietnam? correct or incorrect? yes or no? are you going to answer the question? the question is, where you're right or wrong? that is a pretty straightforward question. i would like for you to answer whether you were right or wrong, and then you are free to elaborate. >> i am not going to give you a yes or no answer -- >> hagel finally gave the answer on the surge that he wanted to
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give. >> i saw the consequences and suffering and horror of war, so i did question a surge. will this be worth the sacrifice? we lost almost 1200 american during that period was it required, necessary? >> how much of that exchange was political, how much was personal, and how much was related to the defense policy? >> 92, 11, 13. a lot of it was personal. one could not watch those hearings without feeling there were a lot of personal grudges but, even vendettas, being settled. >> center cornyn of texas says he cannot support a nominee for defense secretary who thinks we should be tougher on israel and more lenient on iran. is that a fair characterization of chuck hagel? >> what was important about the hearing yesterday, the news --
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which we ought to be discussing -- is not the content of what he has been saying. that has already been hashed out. not even his veracity, since he changed his mind on have a dozen issues overnight. and on his competence. the reason democrats were shocked by his performance was that he displayed an amazing clueless this on a variety of issues. the clip you should have shown, which would have highlighted, was an example of the hearings, the one in which he showed he did not even understand the idea of containment against iran, a major issue of our time. i will talk about that afterwards. his problem was, he was stumbling, bumbling, and looked completely out of his depth. that is what people had not seen about him before. >> it was obvious, anybody who spends any time with chuck hagel
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knows -- even his great admirers -- know that he is not a very verbal-nimble person here that is a nice way to put it. that does not mean that he will not be a good defense secretary. what was fascinating to me, here were all of his former colleagues from his side of the aisle who were perfectly happy to swift vote john kerry and then vote for him -- i think there were only three dissenting votes. and here they have somebody who they agree with far more than they agree with john kerry on foreign policy, and they just trashed him. >> does chuck hagel have the know-how to handle the bureaucracy like the pentagon? >> before the recess, he was unsteady with his answers and grasp of the facts. later in afternoon, the third round of hearings, after he was more sure-footed, does he have
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the capacity? i think so, if you listen to the exchanges with center came from maine talking about the management of the defense department, issues there. a much more competent answer. >> what about this jewish lobby business? he apologized for using that phrase, but listen to this exchange with lindsey graham. >> name one person who is intimidated by the israeli lobby in the u.s. senate. >> the use of intimidation -- i should have used influence. >> he could not name one person publicly. this is gamesmanship of the first order. you have conversations with plenty members of congress, and they feel one way about some of the issues in the middle east and feel they simply cannot move an inch on questions involving israel. >> is chuck hagel in command of the issues that he will be
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grappling with here? >> i do not think anybody would have come off well. it was a halting performance by chuck hagel, and chuck hagel, to underline what nina said earlier, is not a verbally- nimble person. he is not known for sound bites, not somebody that you go to if you want a quotation on a deadline. he will give you thought full context. >> god forbid. [laughter] >> more than anything else, i could not get over the back during quality. yes or no, yes or no, senator. john mccain was looking for vindication for the surge. chuck hagel was not going to give it to him. >> john mccain is not the issue, it is chuck hagel. his problem is not syntax, but
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elementary knowledge. he spoke about iran as a legitimately elected government. we know that the revolution of 2009 was sparked by the fact that it was a rigged election, an illegitimate economy. the clip i wanted you to show was the one in which he was asked about the policy of containment. it was not a badgering issue. he said he supports the administration's policy of containment. he then gets a note and said, i have been told i made a mistake. of course, i am not in support of that. the policy of this administration on containment is that it does not have a policy. at which point, democratic senator levin had to rescue him and said, in fact, the administration has a policy on containment, and it is to oppose it. he was clueless. >> colby. clueless? >> he was in the position where
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he had to dodge a little bit. let's go back to the exchange with senator mccain on the surge. the issue was never the surge when you talk about iraq. the issue was, as senator nelson from florida framed it, going into iraq, because we thought their weapons of mass destruction. we end up with 4000 americans dead, $1.90 trillion from the war, and you tell me the issue is the surge? the issue was going into the country in the first place. >> what did chuck hagel do on the boat to go to war in iraq? he voted yes. >> so did nelson, because he thought there were weapons of mass destruction. that is what the bush administration said p.w. are displaying him as a great anti- war hero -- >> i am not portraying him as anything. >> chuck hagel has the decency
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and integrity, having voted to go to war, coming out and apologizing for the decision he made. something that has not been done by the hawks that took us to war, told us there were weapons of mass destruction, and that they knew where they were. >> here is chuck hagel's history of the courageous speaker to power of the iraq war. when public opinion is in favor of going to war, he votes yes. when the war goes south, public opinion is against it, he is against it. he has this one opportunity to redeem the war, which is headed south, and the surge, everyone acknowledges it was a success. he voted against it because the surge was against public opinion at the time. >> we have been fighting about the surge forever, and it is not worth fighting about again. what i think is wrong -- you
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said that this was not about john mccain or lindsey graham. that is wrong. in a congressional hearing, it is about everybody. everyone knows it is a drama. in this drama, chuck hagel was halting, and the republican were bullies. nobody came out looking great. >> the secretary of defense, who has to negotiate with the russians and iranians, and you say he was bullied in a congressional hearing? >> this is entirely different. leon panetta, in his first public appearance, after leaving the cia, made a bunch of blunders of this kind. >> here is what is ahead for the next defense secretary. sequestration, the winding down of afghanistan, the bombing of targets in syria to keep the missiles out of hezbollah. al qaeda everywhere, china
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growing military might. north korea talking about another test targeting the united states. why didn't they get into that stuff? >> it is up to the members to do it. they did not get to it because it was not their objective. the objective, on one side, was to make sure the president's nominee gets through. on the other side, everything they could do to damage him. that is what was at play. it was not a good display of congressional, senate oversight. >> he voted against designating the revolutionary guard in iran as a terrorist organization. it is badgering to ask the guy to answer that? >> he cited the fact that the senator from virginia, jim webb took that same position, argued it persuasively, and then -- and dick lugar, joe biden, and
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right through john kerry, the secretary of state. this.be very blunt about barack obama had taken that position. the reality was, they saw it as another backdoor attempt -- and jim webb put it on the record. another attempt at the administration of george h.w. bush and donald rumsfeld, and dick cheney to say we now have a reason to go to war. that was the first time that we have ever single out any entity in any other country as a terrorist organization, a part of the government. we have to single them out. >> one-third of the senate voted for that position. >> let me ask you, it is the irg a terrorist organization or not? >> do not know if they are a terrorist organization. >> let him finish the answer.
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>> i do know this, what it was politically and realistically, was it an attempt to give more strength to an administration that had taken us into a war, which has been a disaster, which has left the united states even more isolated in the world, and has strengthened iran? because of the invasion and occupation in iraq, iran is a more dominant and influential and stronger foe in the world. >> immigration reform. republicans get the message. >> a process that includes completing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning english, and then go to the back of the line behind all the folks who try to come here legally. >> we have questions of fundamental lawlessness. do we have a system that will stop the continued flow of illegal immigrants into the country? >> 11 million undocumented immigrants. what you do with them? according to the pure research center, the present 171% of the
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hispanic vote. is immigration reform possible, charles? >> absolutely. because of the election results, there are a lot of republicans who are open to this now, want to get this off the table. we also have the bipartisan gang of eight, including mccain and rubio, who were on board with this idea of legalization and enforcement. there are significant problem with that proposal. i am not sure that it will pass, because of those problems mentioned. but when you heard the president speak about the back of the line, that is quite deceptive. if you are applying to get into the united states from hong kong or brazil, the illegal immigrants in the u.s. may have to go to the back of the line, but you are waiting in the u.s., working in the u.s., you have everything you want having arrived in the u.s., you do not need to live in fear. the other guys are waiting in
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brazil and hong kong. the line here is already one where you are in the united states. >> you are right about that, but that is the whole point, to get rid of the shadow economy, shadow existence. then get these folks on the path to citizenship. if you know anybody who has been here initially legally, you know, even when they get a green card, their entire existence is devoted to getting citizenship. a green card is not their only desire. >> what about senator sessions' point about the unlawful flow of people into the country? how do you deal with that? >> the way we always have, and we have done much better. if you look at the numbers of people who are caught at the border now, -- some of the attrition in the legal immigration is due to the economy, but a great deal of it is not.
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you just need to look at the resources we have put in, and its successes. at some point, it is a case of diminishing returns. you cannot make it like east berlin on the border. it is too big of a border, we cannot do that. but you can be very tough about it. >> all you need to stem the flow of immigration is an economy like the one we had in this country for the first 10 years of the 21st century. the idea of coming to an share an american prosperity was quickly dashed. let's be blunt about this, mitt romney ran an entire campaign for the nomination based upon his all-out opposition to illegal immigration, tarnishing his opponents. rick perry, john mccain in 2008, he accused of wanting to give social security to illegal aliens, as he called them. newt gingrich, mike huckabee.
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was always the $100,000 gift to these people to go to schools. the republicans understand this now. john mccain was blunt about it. his own state is going blue in a hurry, unless republicans make a dramatic difference. in 1960, the country was 3.5% hispanic. in 2011, it was 17%. in 2050, it will be 29%. whites will have gone from 85% of the national population, down to 40% in the 90-year span. >> interesting numbers. >> yes, but we will be kind. [laughter] >> say that in spanish. [laughter] >> my brothers and i will be kind.
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look, the reality is, we are not going to send 11 million people backed where they came. we are going to keep them here, as it should be. the problem is going to come in from those who feel there is not enough enforcement on the books. these individuals will probably pick up the arguments that is advanced by our colleague charles, to have a fence from coast-to-coast. that is not the major issue here. >> san diego put up a triple- strand fence that had decreased apprehension by 92%. fences work. we ought to at least try it. the fact that nobody wants to is an indication of and seriousness about enforcement. >> if we can make a deal about enforcement -- immigration, how about guns? >> we must do something.
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it will be hard. but the time is now. you must act. >> when it comes to background checks, let's be honest, they will never be universal because criminals will never submit to them. my wife would not be sitting in this seat, she would not have been sitting here today, if we had stronger background checks. >> you get the drift of the hearing. on the day of the inauguration, i spoke to an australian gentleman who said, i love america, but i do not understand your attitude on guns. is control on this issue a pipe dream, is it finally possible? >> something is stirring it out there against the nra. you see a legitimate outpouring of something to be done now on this issue. i do not think we will see a ban
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on assault weapons. i think we might see something done with background checks, particularly where there are sales of weapons on a private basis. clearly, there will have to be some movement. i do not think we end gun violence with legislation, but we are taking a big step towards changing the thinking about guns and possession of guns. >> doesn't wayne lapierre have a point, though? background checks will not prevent a criminal from using guns. >> on that theory, we have laws against murder. people are going to kill people anyways. wayne lapierre and the nra used to support the interests of back rent checks 10 years ago or so. >> what happened? >> i do not actually understand it. they have become more unreasonable, i would say. i do not think we are going to get much of anything now. but this is not going away.
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>> mean that is right. it is a rather fascinating to watch the dynamic of the nra at this point. david cain, the president, the white-haired man, is sort of the good cop. a longtime conservative leader. a longtime nra board member. he has actually come out for universal background checks. lapierre is the more strident, more bombastic, take no prisoners. this is a losing fight for the nra. if we punish people for making false statements on mortgage applications that some bank is going to be hurt, when it comes down to a gun, this is even more serious. >> charles? >> i think the background check will pass, over 90% approval in
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public opinion polls. maybe the size of the magazine clip. a limit of 10. the assault weapons ban -- incidentally, would be a recapitulation of what we tried in 1994 -- is less likely to pass. in the end, it will not make a difference, the same way that the one in 1994 did not. the problem is, in grandfathered in the weapon that people already have. there are 300 million in circulation in the u.s. today. if you do not confiscate them, which nobody contemplates, it would take 100 years to work out that inventory. that is the reason it will not work. i understand everyone's to show some appearance of emotion, but i do not think it will have an effect. >> a word on the secretary of state. >> i have enormous amounts of energy that have to be harnessed and focused. i am very fortunate, looking forward to this next chapter in my life.
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>> hillary clinton, outgoing secretary of state. what chapter would that be, mark? >> i think it is the resurrection. this was someone who left the presidential campaign bruising in 2008, and to see her potentially eight years later as the overwhelming front runner for the democratic nomination is a remarkable comeback. >> john kerry of proof for secretary of state 94-3. what are his challenges? >> remaining consistent with the administration's policy. that will be a challenge, that he does not go on his own and make his own policy. i do not see him perform in a way hillary clinton performed. she was part of a team. he has wanted this job so long and so bad they, he has no notion of what the secretary of state would look like. i think he will be a problem. >> i want to say something about hillary clinton. you see how great her presence
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has been, what a successful secretary of state she has been. any time conservatives can, they want to take a knife to her throat, and guess what? she always turns it back on them. she has emerged as an incredible force. i hope she does what is best for her and us. >> the next chapter of her life is entitled, iowa and new hampshire. >> let me ask you about ed koch, former mayor of new york. he died this weekend. >> and maverick, a good mayor, a quintessential new yorker, a great american story. and we will miss him. >> shy, bashful -- no, no. that is the wrong guy. [laughter] combative. 21 times in 26 years he went to the voters to ask how he was doing. he was made to the mayor of new york. he ran for governor of the state
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and lost to mario cuomo. >> he was a jewish laguardia. >> america has its characters of different regions and at the cities. he was, in that sense, a quintessential american character. >> colby? >> colorful. >> i was interviewing him one time and he stopped in the middle of the interview and said, this is really good stuff. i would like a copy of this. ed koch, dead at the age of 88. we will all remember him for the campaign. that is the last word. thanks. see you next week.
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are you? born in a prison... man: who's that young girl? little dorrit? oh, she's nothing. surrounded by secrets... man: there is one thing i should like to ask you. woman: have a care what you wish for. from the sprawling rags-to-riches novel by chaou. a story about a small woman with a big heart.
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